Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” Is a Reminder of Simplicity, Beauty, and Hope in a World of Time

So, I had the occasion yesterday, in the midst of all my craziness and busy-ness, to pause for a moment.  To take a breath.  To capture a beautiful moment in cinema.

I had a chance to see Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo.”

Oh, and I saw it in 3D, which is not something I normally go for.


I have to say I went in with no expectations.  I had heard it was cinematic splendor, and an homage to movies.  I knew that some folks enjoyed it, some not so much.  But other than that?  Well, the experience was my own…or, about as “my own” as any movie is these days.

The movie is about time, but it has a magical reality to it that transcends time…and place.  Yes, we are in an old-timey Paris, and yes, the actors are dressed in a certain style, but quite honestly, we could be anywhere…anywhere in the world of imagination.

Hugo, a young boy played with heart and grace by Asa Butterfield, lives alone in a Paris train station, setting clocks and constantly beset by a particularly zealous Sacha Baron Cohen.  The focus of Hugo’s life, besides an interest in time, is an automaton from a local museum that he and his late father so desperately tried to fix.  Hugo, determined to keep his father’s legacy alive, sees his hopes and dreams fall into the hands of Georges Melies, played by the incomparable Ben Kingsley.  Adventure ensues as the viewer is slowly and methodically drawn into Hugo’s world of isolation, adventure, and unexpected joy.

As I sat there, mesmerized, I found myself plucking the themes out of the film, like raisins from my toast.  There was “Oliver.”  Did “Cinema Paradiso” just go by?  Aha!  There’s the famous French couple from so many movies coming together in love and subtext over a yappy dog.  Yes, it’s all there.  Yes, the story is wonderful.  Yes, the cast is terrific.

But something else was in the mix.  A feeling.  An emotional connection.  As the characters’ lives unfold in a rich tapestry of subtle secrets and sadness, there is a love that shines through so apparent.  In fact, the difficulties of all these lives stem not from their despairs but from their passions.

See that.  Know that.

We can pursue a life, or, indeed, a pursuit in life, with such a passion, that when we think we have missed our chance, we can find ourselves crushed under the weight of dreams we once held so dear.  But then again, maybe it is only a shift in perspective that keeps us from realizing the gift of things that are no more.

Perhaps they aren’t gone.  Perhaps we haven’t learned to change with them.

And that is Hugo’s great strength.  A focus on time – its comings and goings – ties all the movie’s motifs to one great idea.  That is, if we have enough hope, then time is but an illusion.  It’s only when we lose that hope we feel like juggler’s balls in a clock’s hands.

Here at Nobody’s View, we write for the rest of us.  We write for the dreamers, the wishers, the anonymous, and the everyday.  We know, like you know, that to be on the road means that any day, any corner, any bend, any moment, could be the greatest of our lives, if only we show up and participate.  Our anonymity buys us a ticket to adventure in this life that we may not always appreciate.  Any event holds the promise of fortune, if only we show up as who we are –  not swayed by the somebodies all around us who seek to capture our lives for their own gain.  We life for the sake of life, because that’s what we have.

That’s why Hugo resonates so powerfully.  It’s not about an orphaned boy in a train station waiting for his life to end.  It’s about the idea that if we hold onto our dreams and pursue them with all our might, we could just come to find that we are not victims of time, but its masters.  That the passing months and years, held gently in the hands of hope, can be molded and shaped into anything we wish….

Even in a life of craziness and busy-ness.


2 responses to “Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” Is a Reminder of Simplicity, Beauty, and Hope in a World of Time

  1. The movie itself runs a bit long at 127 minutes, but Hugo is worth every minute for the visual feast it provides, and features Scorsese in probably his most delightful and elegant mood ever, especially with all of the beautiful 3-D. Good review.

    • @CMrok93: Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it. Yes, the run time is a bit long! But you know? As you so aptly say, it’s “his most delightful and elegant mood ever…” What a beautiful way to say it. I just got so lost in it, that the time really did seem to fly by!

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